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Closely Watched Economic Reports Due

From Reuters

A flood of fresh economic reports will wash over Wall Street this week, but investors are likely to do little more than tread water, fearful of diving into stocks as the threat of war clouds the market’s outlook.

Even this week’s weighty batch of data, which includes closely watched reports on the manufacturing sector, the U.S. labor market, personal income and spending, and productivity, may not be enough to draw attention from the international front for long.

Investors also are finding little comfort in the murky outlook for corporate profits. Although fourth-quarter earnings have largely landed on target, a few high-profile disappointments have stung the market.

The flow of quarterly earnings reports has slowed to a trickle, but results are on tap this week from a number of retailers, including Costco Wholesale Corp. and Toys R Us Inc.

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Wall Street kicks off this week with one of the month’s main economic events, the Institute of Supply Management survey. Economists expect the survey today to show a pullback to 52.4 in February from January’s 53.9, showing that the manufacturing sector is expanding, albeit at a slower pace.

Government data on U.S. personal income and spending for January, also due today, will be key as investors search for more clues to consumer health. Economists forecast a 0.4% gain in income and a 0.1% rise in spending.

The big day for data is Friday, when the Labor Department issues its monthly unemployment report. Economists estimate about 8,000 nonfarm jobs were created in February, while the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9% from 5.7% in January.


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